2021-03-01

Political Censorship on Twitter

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by Neil Godfrey

Further reminders  that  social media are  not  public, but privately owned,  spaces:

On February 24, 2021, Twitter suspended the account of CODEPINK National Co-director Ariel Gold, an outspoken feminist advocate for Palestinian rights and an end to U.S. militarism. 

(From the Codepink page)

Here are the flagged tweets. I can’t see any connection between Twitter’s stated reason for violation of rules and the content of the tweets.

This comes hard on the heels of reports of another censorship:

‘Undermining faith in NATO’ is now grounds for Twitter ban

Heresy against NATO has apparently joined the ever-expanding list of sins that will get one erased from Twitter, as Big Tech mounts a crusade against infidels at home and abroad on behalf of values of Our Democracy.

Twitter announced bans on 373 accounts it connected to “state-linked information operations” on Tuesday. Some of them, the company said, “amplified narratives that were aligned with the Russian government” or “focused on undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.”

From Twitter Safety:

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6 thoughts on “Political Censorship on Twitter”

  1. Concluding paragraphs of a column I posted on Substack back in January:

    Until the Internet came along, the press, and especially the broadcast press, certainly influenced our public discourse. Conservative complaints about liberal bias were justified, even if sometimes exaggerated, as they were by Vice President Spiro Agnew in his Des Moines diatribe. No publishing company, though, ever had nearly the kind of control over public discourse that the government could have exercised. Conservative opinions could reach all who wanted to hear them and even many who would have preferred not to hear them. The mainstream press perhaps tried to discredit conservative commentators, but they could not silence them, and it would never have occurred to them to try silencing the president of the United States.

    That has changed, and our nation needs to accordingly change its thinking about freedom of speech and the press. We have never perfectly honored our Constitutional commitment to them, but we have done well overall, and our previous failures cannot excuse any relaxation now. As a conservative, I do not want the government telling me what I may or may not say in the public square, but I know of no conservative principle that says I should let Facebook or Twitter tell me, either. If the free market has given them the power to control this nation’s public debate, then the market needs to give up a little bit of its freedom. Our founders gave us the Constitution as a shield against tyrannical government. In their time, corporate tyranny was not a credible threat. Now it is, and if the Constitution says there is nothing we can do about it, then it’s time for another amendment to the Constitution.

  2. It’s pretty clear that Ariel has her every tweet flagged by bad faith actors. It looks like Twitter auto-suspends when tweets are flagged without any oversight (seemingly not with even cursory artificial intelligence) and then blocked the account after a ‘pattern’ was seen. The pattern, however is of ‘hasbara trolls’ vindictively flagging her tweets.
    The offence of ‘undermining faith in NATO’ is very, very worrying. Many people don’t have much faith in NATO, from peacenik lefties like me through to gibbering fascists like the former US president. It should certainly be allowable to criticise a military pact. In fact, undermining faith in corrupt or belligerent institutions is vital to political renewal.

  3. Glenn Greenwald had a good writeup on political censorship by BigTech…

    “That Facebook, Google and Twitter are exerting more and more control over our political expression is hardly contestable. What is most remarkable, and alarming, is that they are not so much grabbing these powers as having them foisted on them, by a public — composed primarily of corporate media outlets and U.S. establishment liberals — who believe that the primary problem of social media is not excessive censorship but insufficient censorship. As Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) told Mark Zuckerberg when four Silicon Valley CEOs appeared before the Senate in October: “The issue is not that the companies before us today is that they’re taking too many posts down. The issue is that they’re leaving too many dangerous posts up.”

    https://greenwald.substack.com/p/the-threat-of-authoritarianism-in

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